Monday, March 22, 2010

A Word or Two About Writing

Photo by Gonzalo Barrientos
Ask any writer about the writing process...go ahead...ask them. Say somethin' like, "Hey you...writer...tell me about your process..."
For every writer you ask, you'll get a different answer.  Every writer has his or her own way of going about things.  Maybe the arrangement of things on the desk has to be just so.  The cup of coffee has to be on the right side or the left side.  It has to be 5AM.  Or 2PM.  Some writers have to wear the blue, hemp "writing" hat in order to get any work accomplished...(so, okay...that's me!) Some writers have to write longhand.  Others can only write on a laptop.  And others still are die hard old school worker bees and must write on a typewriter. 

Oh, my goodness, the list goes on and on.  But from what I understand, most writers, myself included, do engage in the dance of procrastination.  For me, I am mostly writing these days in the morning.  When a good idea comes to me in the night, while I'm sleeping (and it often does) I'd better get my butt up and write down the idea, otherwise it is lost forever.  I've tried  to talk myself into believing that the idea is SO good, so lucid, that it will be there in the morning.  It never is.  NEVER.  Maybe a remnant of the idea, but only if I'm lucky.  I'm usually not!

I can think of a million things to do that have nothing to do with writing prior to plopping down and getting to the task at hand.  The funny thing is, once I'm IN it...once I've started, and I'm engaged, I love writing.  Don't get me wrong, it's hard as hell.  Mostly rewriting is hard.  Writing is fun.  Rewriting is ARDUOUS.  I love that word.  That's why I do this.  I love words. 

Photo by Billie Hara
If you want to write for a living, then you have to treat it like a job.  A job you love...but a job nonetheless.  You can make your own hours, you can write whenever you want, where ever you want.  You can wear your pajamas, or your sweats or a suit and tie for that matter.  But you need to set goals, and be disciplined, and write EVERY SINGLE DAY!  It's like exercise.  You have to do it every day to see results.  To get better at your craft.  Sure you need a break now and then.  So take a break...I'm not stopping you.  But it's essential to keep those wheels greased!

There are tons of books out there on how to write.  But I say, if you want to write, don't read about it...DO IT!  If you do want to hear what the pros have to say, here's a couple of suggestions:
  •  Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  Even if you don't want to be a writer, you should read Anne Lamott. She's amazing, adorable, humorous...I love her.  Read everything she's ever written.  You'll be glad you did.
  • And of course, I must recommend my main man, Mr. Stephen King.  His book On Writing shoots from the hip.  He tells it like it is, doesn't sugarcoat it.  Before I die, please let me meet Stephen King and thank him for the hours of reading pleasure (and terror) he has given me.  But in On Writing, he was very much my teacher, and there is no finer teacher than the master himself!
DISCIPLINE.  Say it with me. DISCIPLINE!  Good!  Because that's what it takes.  Just write!  Not every word has to be gold.  Not everything you create has to be read by somebody else.  But if you want to write...if you want to call yourself a writer, then be a Nike ad, and JUST DO IT!

Thank you for your attention during my diatribe.  Now write me a comment...that's a good way to get started!


cherilynd said...

Okay...I have to admit...I needed to read this, this blog tugged at my core, my writer's core and thanks for the inspiration or kick in the pants. The books you recommended are the same two I suggest to all writers regardless of where stand at this amazing world of prose.

I too have found myself doing a million other things besides what I love. Of course reading a good book or a good blog can get you right back on your path.


Amber Rae said...

Very great, very true. I love King, BTW. He made me want to write. I wish I had his twisted mind. He's brilliant. And so are you!

Dayna Del Val said...

Love Anne Lamott--every word she has ever written! Have never read anything by Mr. King. I know, was I born yesterday under a rock?!?!?!?

As a writer, I find that I can do an amazing amount of unnecessary things before I ever sit down to write--stupid procrastination things like check out for the millionth time--have to keep up with all those people! Sometimes, I'll even clean just to avoid writing, and like you, once I get going, I even kind of like it.

Being your own task master is not always easy, but I do love the perks that come with it. I also love that you simultaneously encouraged me to write and not be discouraged that I procrastinate--I like belonging to that "all writers do it" camp! Thanks!

Dani Duck said...

I just started reading your blog and I see that it's all kinds of fun. I'm glad you shared your link on Facebook.

This article you wrote about writing is right on the money. For those of us that aren't making money it's really hard to treat it like a job, because most of us have jobs as well as other daily life things to worry about.

I've done a lot of writing, and a lot of artwork in my life. I've always wanted to be able to make money off of what I'm doing. At the beginning of the year I decided to get serious about my artwork and started publishing my illustration every day on my blog.

I'm still not being paid for my artwork but I feel like I have a clear plan of what I want to do. I can see myself getting a little closer every day to my goal of being published. It can be a real pain to work on it and it can really suck sometimes. It's nice to read blogs like yours, because they have these nice little kicks in the pants for people like me.

Lisa said...

I love writing, too. That was the whole reason I started blogging, really. I do find that I fall out of the habit though, so your honest "get off your butt and do it" attitude probably would benefit me.

Anonymous said...

You invited your readers to make a comment. Here is mine: Well written. What else can I say? Other than, "I know Stephen King personally, and I will give him a call and set up a meeting between him and you." I wish I could say that, but unfortunately I cannot. But I do sincerely hope you get to meet Mr. King some day. -- MikeB